Andover, KS -- The first aircraft that retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Charles G. Boyd ever flew was a Beechcraft T-34 Mentor during his flight training back in 1959. Today, that same model is the last plane the 73-year-old career airman says he’ll likely own.
“It’s a serendipitous thing,” Gen. Boyd says. “I wanted to find the first aircraft model that I ever flew, as I thought it would be a nice bookend to my life in aviation.”
Boyd, who served in the Air Force for 35 years after completing his pilot’s training, searched for a T-34 for sale across the country. Upon purchasing one from a hobbyist in Wisconsin, Boyd decided to customize the 1954 aircraft’s paint scheme. He worked with an aviation design artist, Brian Smith of Wings Aviation Design Group in Dallas, to create a signature look for the plane and then turned to the experts at Camabata Aviation International’s StarPort full-service paint facility in Sanford, Fla., to refresh his vintage treasure with fresh coatings.
The colors Boyd selected for his design were from the Sherwin-Williams Aerospace palette – Las Vegas Gold, Ming Blue and Off-White, all of which enhanced his desired Air Force theme, complete with an eagle insignia to represent the fact that Gen. Boyd retired in 1995 as the Air Force’s “gray eagle” – the longest serving active pilot at the time of his retirement.
Meeting the General’s paint color requirements was a natural for the crew at StarPort, as it relies only on quality Sherwin-Williams® coatings to enhance the appearance and increase the durability of the aircraft they maintain and service.
“We believe in using only the highest quality paint available because we think it provides longer-lasting high gloss and extreme depth of image,” says Kerry Delhomme, StarPort’s paint manager.
Delhomme noted that the crew used a combination of Sherwin-Williams flagship Acry Glo®, a high-performance, multi-component urethane and its new SKYscapes® basecoat-clearcoat exterior paint system to redesign Boyd’s Beechcraft T-34. The project was the first time the StarPort crew had worked with the SKYscapes product line, which the facility is looking to convert to completely in the near future.
“Because it was the first time we worked with the SKYscapes coating system, we had to learn how it sprays, how it lays down and how much to apply,” Delhomme says. “We also learned how fast it can dry, which is really important in our humid climate.”
The SKYscapes modified polyester topcoat is applied using an innovative basecoat-clearcoat process in which all colors are actually applied as a basecoat. After the basecoat dries, the entire surface of the aircraft is sprayed with a clearcoat finish. Color coat dry time is approximately two hours, compared to six to 10 hours for other systems. This allows shops to apply numerous colors in a single shift and move the aircraft more quickly through the painting cycle.
“It’s a much faster process. With the SKYscapes coating system you can tape within two hours vs. 12 hours with traditional systems,” Delhomme says. “It helped us get the plane back in the air faster, and it will last longer. We’re looking forward to making the transition to this new, efficient product.”
Gen. Boyd is thrilled with the end result of his T-34’s makeover at StarPort.
“They did a fabulous job,” he says. “And the Sherwin-Williams colors are brilliant and wonderful. The paint job is beyond museum quality. I have visited aviation museums all over this country and the aircraft in most of them don’t have paint jobs of this quality.”
For more information on SKYscapes®, Acry Glo or other Sherwin-Williams Aerospace high-performance general aviation, military and commercial aircraft coatings, please call 1-888-888-5593 or visit www.swaerospace.com. For more information on StarPort, please call 407.585.3379 or visit www.starportusa.com.